3:16pm Friday 6th September 2013
ALAN SWINBANK’S Lothair is in cracking form at present, winning nicely at Carlisle last week, he followed up at Hamilton on Monday in the concluding amateur riders handicap under Simon Walker.
The four-year-old is not finished yet, as the winning trainer said afterwards: “He will run again at Newcastle on Friday and Ben Curtis will ride him. The horse has taken a bit of time, but it is nice he is going the right way.”
Earlier in the afternoon Red Charmer made all the running in the extended one mile handicap for Ann Duffield and PJ McDonald.
Afterwards the delighted Joint-owner Ian Farrington said: “He hasn’t been the most intelligent of animals, he has been very slow to learn and he has needed time and patience, but Ann and George have done a very good job with him and he has just started to show what we thought he could do.”
Mark Johnston continues to send out the winners at a phenomenal rate and he was also on the mark at Hamilton’s card. This time it was Machican who entered the winners’ enclosure and the trainers’ son Charlie was on hand, saying: “He will be all right. He is a lovely looking horse and greenness was all that beat him at Pontefract. The handicapper cannot be too hard on him and we will see where we go.”
Tomorrow Thirsk are all set to stage a competitive card, the feature race being the Hambleton Cup at 5.25pm.
A big field is assured and one who catches the eye among the entries is the Karl Burke trained Now My Sun.
On Tuesday morning the news broke that the popular chaser Direct Route was put down at the age of 22 after suffering a broken leg.
The gelding won 15 of his 40 starts for former County Durham trainer Howard Johnson, claiming five Grade One prizes over fences including two Melling Chases at Aintree and the Tingle Creek at Sandown.
But he is perhaps best remembered for going down by a short head to Edredon Bleu in an exhilarating climax to the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 2000, a race in which he had finished third 12 months earlier.
Since his retirement in 2002, Direct Route spent his days at part-owner Chris Heron’s farm in Yorkshire, but Johnson confirmed he suffered a broken leg in the paddocks on Monday.
Johnson said: “He was a great horse – along with Inglis Drever he’d be as good a horse as I ever trained.
“He loved Aintree, but wasn’t a lucky horse at Cheltenham.
The year he just got beaten in the Champion Chase it looked like it was a deadheat or we’d just won, we couldn’t believe we’d lost.
“A couple of years earlier we thought we’d win the Arkle there and Dobbs (Tony Dobbin) fell off him. He wasn’t very happy!
“He was an unbelievable horse really as he got an injury to his pelvis as a foal and was all wrong behind and then he had a twisted foot, but he was so tough.
“We won a bumper at Market Rasen first time out, we absolutely cleaned up and Mary Reveley (former trainer) was interested in buying him after that and came to look at him.
“She said ‘Howard, the horse won’t come down the hill at Hexham’. I said ‘No, but he’ll go up the hill at Cheltenham’.
“Sir Robert Ogden was interested in buying him as well, but we decided not to sell and he did great for us and his owners, Michael Thompson and Chris Heron.
“Those were the days, the days I enjoyed going racing.
“It’s hard to compare him and Inglis Drever. They were two totally different horses but both were great to have anything to do with.”
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